Hanan Zare


Research Cluster

Partnership in cooperation development - Access to development cooperation for marginalized groups


PhD Project Title

A sociological study of women's role in the social development of urbanizing rural areas


Rural-urban migration has increased in Iran since 1960; due to current economic conditions, immigrants could not provide adequate housing and are forced to settle in small towns and rural areas. As a result, settlements changed into small towns with a rural core, and small towns began growing into large cities. Thus, a new area known as "rural-urban" has emerged in recent years, particularly around metropolises. This new phenomenon has emerged in many developed countries, serving a specific purpose and facilitating urban-rural exchanges. On the contrary, it is generally formed in developing countries such as Iran by cities over-expanding and rural areas being swallowed up by cities. The Iranian rural-urban phenomenon results from massive migration, and it includes a diverse range of ethnic groups and immigrants, each with its own culture and social traditions. Therefore their social and cultural problems,  including those concerning women and social development, have a certain character different from other parts of the country.

Because women constitute half of the population in rural and urban areas, gender studies have gotten much attention in the last two decades. As a result of the changes in Iran since the Islamic Revolution, women have gained more opportunities to participate in the development process. On the other hand, women in rural-urban areas are unlikely to benefit from this process and face significant problems. According to some studies in the field ( see: Sepahi et al., 2015; Gharkhloo et al., 2008; Naghdi et al., 2012; Khani et al., 2017), rural traditions, values, and norms are significantly contributing to the situation and negatively affect the women's participation in development. These traditions and norms contribute to unemployment, homelessness, lack of social support, lack of participation in community activities, educational and health issues, early marriages, unsafe infertility, and financial difficulties that are the most challenging issues for women in these areas. Lack of income and a lack of skills; are all aspects of insecure and incompatible development conditions.

Therefore, the research's main questions are: first, what is the social development status of rural-urban areas? Second, what is the role of women in the dimensions of social development, such as social trust, social participation, and social security? How will a sociological analysis of the situation of women in the field of social development be addressed? In addition, quantitative indicators such as the number of girls enrolled in school, the number of working women, and so on have been used to measure women's status concerning development issues during the last few decades. According to current approaches to women and development, these indicators are insufficient for assessing gender equality. Because quantitative assessments cannot assess the quality of women's jobs, family decision-making procedures, the quality of sexual and gender-based violence, and the issues linked to women's private life; studying such topics requires a quantitative approach. Therefore, employing a qualitative approach will be useful to reveal formerly ignored factors in women's development in these areas. This study will also draw on the theoretical stands such as gender and development theories; the women, culture, and development approach; women's agency; gender, law, and development approaches; and poverty and empowerment theories to form a suitable conceptual framework.

Educational Background

Professional Experience

Social / Political Activities

  • 2016-2022: Active member of Center for women's Study, University of Tehran
  • 2020: Active member of UNESCO Chair in Social Health and Development, University of Tehran
  • 2013-2016: Active member of Cooperative Research Institute, University of Tehran